The Glorious Sons’ recent release “A War On Everything” (released September 13, 2019) is really nothing short of . . . wonderful!
Review by Scott Harmon
When the blues calved rock and roll from its flanks, it did so because like the prodigal son, rock and roll was hell-bent for trouble and it found it. Not looking back, rock and roll plunged headlong into a history of hedonism; a celebration of all manner of rebellion both liberating and self-destructive. And while it is tempting to think the expression “rock and roll” refers to one rocking and rolling to the rhythm of the music, the more carnal explanation is likely more accurate. And although rock and roll’s edges have been smoothed out over time to accommodate the economic aspirations of the record labels, there are still some artists carrying the torch. The Glorious Sons are one such band.
The Glorious Sons’ recent release “A War On Everything” (released September 13, 2019) is really nothing short of . . . wonderful (I’ll avoid the obvious pun here). Generally, there’s a temptation in the music industry to sanitize everything. And with good reason as most people will tell you they want something different, but they gravitate to the familiar. So, the artist has to walk a fine line, gently guiding the listener into uncharted waters while fooling them that the waters around them are calm and familiar. Collectively, the songs on A War On Everything follow mostly familiar arrangements, but the musicianship is as good as it gets and the production stands out for its deft touch on the mixing board. However, what stands out particularly on A War On Everything are the vocals and lyrics.
The Glorious Sons official music video for the first track from A War On Everything, “Panic Attack” released earlier this year.
Brett Emmons, the brother of fellow bandmate and guitarist Jay Emmons, is credited with writing most of the songs and he handles the lead vocals as well. Like one might describe an intriguing wine, Brett Emmons’ vocals have hints of Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms and Michael Stipe of REM. But, it’s his words that draw one on to his lyrical web and once ensnared there’s no escaping. Songwriters seem to typically fall into one of two camps; either they write autobiographically or they’re “Empaths” who can express that which others are feeling. Once in awhile, we’ll be blessed with a songwriter who can do both. I cannot tell which camp Brett Emmons falls into, but for God’s sake let’s hope it is all autobiographical that his songs are at least half as cathartic for him as they are to his audience.
All of the songs on A War On Everything are strong. The two guitars, played by Jay Emmons and Chris Koster adds both bite and drive to the songs, but their nuanced fills strike me as orchestral parts at times, providing subtly different voices to the composition. There are, however, some standouts on this release. On “Panic Attack”, the opening track, the lyrics open with “I wanna be normal. I wanna be sane. I wanna look at you and feel something other than pain.” The song is a plaintive call for help from someone who desperately needs help defining and curing that which plagues him/her. This has particular resonance in this, the season of our universal discontent.
The song “Wild Eyes” explains “I’m scared of humans, I’m scared of bombs. I’m worried about white kids carrying guns. Wrapped a noose around my neck cause I just couldn’t hide. I wrapped it round my throat and I just couldn’t stop laughing.” Similar to Panic Attack, the lyrics betray a certain surrender to bleak circumstances. On “A Funny Thing Happened” the singer pines for a deceased loved one while complaining of his own unsuccessful attempts to take his own life so that he can join them. The irony that this release occurred during National Suicide Prevention Week is not lost on the reviewer.
Of the fourteen songs in this collection, there’s not one that can be dismissed as filler; they’re all entertaining and worthy of your attention. But, standing above them all is the song “The Laws of Love and War” which may be the most beautiful song I’ve heard in a long time. Brett Emmons sings “I don’t remember, what you came for. It hurts cause you’re not mad anymore. Oh, we never learned the laws of love and war.” What’s particularly moving about these lines is that the singer knows that if the other person is angry, it means that they care. And if they care, there’s a possibility to repair the relationship. But, this relationship is beyond that and he recognizes it and thus surrenders to his heartbroken fate. This is so touching and beautifully performed that I suspect with the right nurturing it could be included in the canon of great rock song/ballads.
Check out The Glorious Sons official music video for their single, “Pink Motel” released earlier this year.